Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dear Sports Bloggers: I Love You

Being a sports fan is a complex matter, in part irrational but not unworthy a relief from the seriousness of the real world, with its unending pressure and often grave obligations. 
- Richard Gilman

To love sports as a fan is at once rewarding, frustrating, empowering, enraging and (as the late theater and literary critic Gilman hints at) completely meaningless. Sports, he seems to say, mean escapism, but they become so much more critical and more complex to a fan. (Just try explaining why you love sports so deeply to someone who simply doesn't understand them or actively dislikes them, and you'll see what Gilman meant.)

Were he alive and plugged into new media, Gilman would see a growing community of passionate, fanatical sports bloggers who willingly add to the complexity of being a fan by exposing their views to the world. At the same time, sports bloggers help fans express themselves through social engagement online, helping cut through that complexity and strengthen the fan community.


Newly Drafted: Blog Don't Lie ('Sheed not included)

Blog Don't Lie seeks to better understand and celebrate the sports blogging world. Unique, passionate and fiery in so many ways, sports bloggers present opinions, facts and figures from (typically) the sidelines.

I say to that: no more. With the onslaught of social and new media, the fan blogger's time starts now and runs as far as we the bloggers take it!

With Blog Don't Lie, I plan to dive into their world. What does it take to succeed? Who is killing it? What are their stories? Where was this sports blog thing born, and where is it headed?

From the people to the topics to the tech, Blog Don't Lie wants it all. If a sports blogger finds his or her voice because of this blog (or finds new fans and bloggers with whom to connect), then that's a W in my book.

MVP: You, the Sports Fan Blogger

Unlike blogs about business, cooking or beauty products, fans who blog are rarely industry professionals. They aren't able to get their hands dirty with their subject matter as an entrepreneur might be able to do when he or she blogs on start-up life. Sports fans aren't handed press passes just because they figured out how WordPress works.

To be a sports blogger requires a unique recipe: 10 percent couch journalist, 20 percent video analyst, 30 percent pontificator and 50 percent fanatic. (For those keeping score, yes, that's 110 percent. As any good sports fan knows, it's the amount required to leave out there on the field.)

It's that exact type of fan and blogger I wish to expose, promote and engage with through Blog Don't Lie. And to be clear, while professional bloggers have a very important place in the blogosphere (and there are some great ones I particularly admire), the audience I wish to speak to (and with) is comprised of fan bloggers.

General Manager: The Smiling Face to the Right

I'd like this site to focus on me as little as possible, but I think it's important you know why I'm creating Blog Don't Lie and why I've grown to love sports blogging and bloggers.

I've been blogging since 2005, well before most casual fans knew what "blogging" meant (and certainly before major media outlets started throwing their resources behind blogs or slapping that label on their national op-eds).

In '05, I launched AllStarBlog.com while writing for the student paper at Trinity College in Hartford. I saw it as a secondary outlet to write about my love. (A bonus, I thought, would be increased readership when my columns ran every week. The idea of online engagement had not occurred to me, as Facebook had just barely penetrated colleges and universities in '04.)

I had the good fortune while still a senior of writing for the Hartford Courant, publishing a couple sports features. My favorite piece was on a female student athlete championing women's rights after training and studying in Cairo.

My final stop before my current role in online media and digital advertising at Google: the mothership herself, ESPN, where I worked in PR and communications.

What I learned along the way is that this entire industry is driven by passion and propped up by fans. Without the fans, the papers have no readers, the teams have no revenue, and the entirety of our favorite industry collapses.

Fast forward just six years from my first blog (and about a year from launching my second, now dormant), and blogging in general has become an accepted medium, with sports bloggers leading the charge for fans who wish to express their passions.

I couldn't be more thankful for this, and I'm excited to celebrate that community.

If you're passionate about sports blogging and/or blog yourself, leave a comment! I'd love to hear from you.

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